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While postpartum hair loss is very normal, it can also be quite pesky to deal with, especially in the wake of everything else that comes with just giving birth. Here are some products that make it more manageable.
- Best shampoo: Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Daily Shampoo |Skip to review
- Best conditioner: John Frieda Volume Lift Weightless Conditioner |Skip to review
- Best supplements:
- Best topical treatment: Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil Topical Aerosol |Skip to review
- Best hair serum: OGX Nourishing Coconut Milk Anti-Breakage Serum |Skip to review
- Best hair mask treatment: Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 |Skip to review
Hair loss isn’t anything unusual — in fact, the average person loses about 50 to 100 hairs per day! But if you’re a parent-to-be (or a new parent), you may notice stark changes in your hair that you didn’t sign up for.
After pregnancy, you may notice your hair is shedding more than it usually does. This is because, during pregnancy, many people have fuller hair due to a
First order of business: Take a deep breath and know that you’re definitely not alone, and it doesn’t last forever.
In pregnancy, a lot of women experience thicker, shinier, and healthier hair overall — this is due to increased hormone levels which slow down the rate of hair loss, explains Papri Sarkar, MD, a dermatologist in Boston, Massachusetts.
“Although women aren’t necessarily growing many more strands of hair, they’re keeping more of them,” she says.
But that often changes around 3–6 months postpartum, when hormone levels decrease and those extra hairs the body was holding onto start shedding. Those likely sleepless nights and stressful days spent calming a fussy newborn certainly don’t help your hair return to normal, either.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s possible postpartum hair loss can be delayed closer to the 6-month mark, notes Brendan Camp, MD, a Manhattan-based dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. This is because breastfeeding prolongs lower estrogen levels.
Postpartum hair loss is usually temporary, but it can temporarily leave you with thinning hair and baby hairs along the hairline that can be difficult to style. If the hair loss is not related to any other medical condition, the hair will grow back — but it could take a year or more.
While you cannot really prevent postpartum hair loss, there are a handful of products that can help address pesky side effects and set you up for health regrowth. Here’s what dermatologists recommend to their new-parent patients.
- $ = under $10 per bottle
- $$ = $10–$30 per bottle
- $$$ = $30–$50 per bottle
- $$$$ = over $50 per bottle
This tried-and-true shampoo isn’t only useful for fighting dandruff — its key ingredient, pyrithione zinc, also called zinc pyrithione (ZPT), has deep-cleaning properties and targets the fungus that causes dandruff to flare up. Older research has found it can help heal the scalp by normalizing keratin and sebum production.
While there is no direct evidence that pyrithione zinc is helpful for postpartum hair loss, Glenn Vallecillos, MD, a plastic surgeon who specializes in hair loss, notes that it may indirectly benefit hair growth by reducing inflammation and dandruff on the scalp.
“Pyrithione zinc has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce scalp inflammation and irritation, which may in turn support healthier hair growth,” he explains. “Additionally, pyrithione zinc is believed to have anti-fungal properties, which can help to reduce fungal overgrowth on the scalp that may contribute to dandruff and other scalp conditions.”
Head & Shoulders is a well-known brand that’s easy to find. So if you travel to visit grandparents or elsewhere, you can likely track it down in a travel size and find it in grocery stores in your destination, making it easy to sustain use. (But make sure you consult your pediatrician before traveling with your baby, as their immune systems are still developing after birth.)
When searching for a conditioner to help thicken postpartum hair, Zenovia Gabriel, MD, a dermatologist based in Newport Beach, California, suggests opting for one that’s lightweight to avoid weighing it down — like this one from John Freida.
The weighing-down of certain hair care ingredients can actually lead to hair shedding, since your hair clumps together more easily and isn’t able to move as freely as it would if you used a more lightweight product.
One of the key ingredients in this conditioner is caffeine, which helps support hair growth in a gentle manner, so it’s safe (and well priced) for everyday use.
And if you’re a whole-package kind of person, start with the brand’s shampoo.
According to all three dermatologists we spoke with, this supplement has been shown to yield impressive results for postpartum hair challenges.
Viviscal is made up of a combination of vitamins, minerals, and a marine complex. It’s best taken twice daily for about 3–6 months and can be used simultaneously with the brand’s volumizing and thickening products to help hair feel thicker in the interim.
This is an oral supplement that may not be suitable for those who are breastfeeding. (You should always ask your OB-GYN before taking any supplement while breastfeeding.) Reviewers also comment on unpleasant side effects like diarrhea and nausea, and that it takes about 3 months to see results.
Nutrafol is a popular hair supplement brand that offers a variety of products designed to support healthy hair growth. Research on this drug-free hair growth product is reportedly impressive, with many women noticing improved hair growth and thickness.
Nutrafol consists of plant-based ingredients and marine collagen (which the brand stresses is sourced from North Atlantic cod, as opposed to more at-risk marine life like sharks). They have a postpartum-specific product that is formulated with a blend of vitamins, minerals, and botanicals intended to help support healthy hair growth and reduce hair shedding. It’s also safe for breastfeeding mothers.
Dr. Vallecillos points out it contains theanine, Shatavari, DHA omega-3s, tocotrienol complex, and marine collagen with nettle and apple, and he says these ingredients help replenish the postpartum body. “This special formulation targets the root causes of postpartum thinning: physical and emotional stress, nutrient depletion, and hormonal fluctuations. With consistent daily use, Nutrafol Postpartum may help new mothers achieve thicker, fuller head of hair with less shedding.”
A note on safety
Oral supplements are tricky because they’re not FDA regulated. Before taking any sort of supplement while pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to consult a lactation specialist or your OB-GYN.
Best topical treatment
This FDA-approved treatment may work wonders for your postpartum hair loss. It helps increase the duration of the hair growth phase, but it also increases your hair density by gradually enlarging the miniaturized hair follicles to mature thicker terminal hairs, explains Rina Weimann (Allawh), MD, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
“Despite initial shedding, consistent use of Rogaine for months has been shown to have favorable results for both sexes,” she says. “In fact, Rogaine works so well that I caution my patients to avoid application on areas that they don’t want hair growth (i.e., face).”
There’s some speculation over whether minoxidil, the main ingredient in Rogaine, is safe for women who are breastfeeding. However,
For thinned hair that’s susceptible to breakage, this serum from OGX can be a real game-changer by preventing frizz and restoring hydration to dry hair.
Hair serums work by penetrating the hair shaft to provide nourishment and hydration, explains Dr. Vallecillos. This one contains nourishing ingredients like coconut oil and vitamin E, which are known for their moisturizing and protective properties. “These ingredients can help to strengthen the hair, reduce breakage, and improve the overall health and appearance of the hair,” he says.
Hair serums like this one can be helpful for postpartum hair because they restore hydration, add shine, and improve the overall health of the hair, which can be compromised in the postpartum period due to hormonal changes, stress, and nutrient deficiencies. “Using a hair serum can help to moisturize and protect the hair, which can help to prevent further damage and promote healthy hair growth,” Dr. Vallecillos says.
It’s worth noting that dry hair can also be caused by a variety of factors unrelated to hormones. Examples include over-processing with color, using heat styling tools too often, as well as exposing hair to the elements such as the sun and water. If you’re prone to breakage and split ends, this product could be helpful even after postpartum.
Best hair mask
This one didn’t come dermatologist recommended, but hairstylists rave about Olaplex for its ability to strengthen and repair even the most damaged hair — and I can attest, it brought my hair back to life postpartum.
It’s a concentrated treatment meant to be used before you shampoo and condition your hair. It helps build back and re-fuse the bonds of the hair, leading to smoother, thicker-appearing, and healthier hair overall.
It’s formulated without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates, so if you prioritize not having those things in your hair products, it fits the bill.
Postpartum hair loss might be common, but that doesn’t make it any less concerning.
According to a
Shedding can last for months, and it generally peaks around 4 months after giving birth, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Most people will see an improvement within the first year of giving birth.
However, it’s worth pointing out that there is a distinct difference between postpartum hair loss (telogen effluvium) and shedding due to your estrogen level dropping. Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that is most commonly the cause of non-scarring alopecia and is a direct consequence of a stressful event like surgery, serious illness, as well as childbirth.
However, it is quite different than when estrogen levels drop suddenly. This, Dr. Vallecillos explains, is a result of the hormonal changes that occur during a woman’s menstrual cycle. “Estrogen levels naturally fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, and a drop in estrogen levels can cause the hair to enter a resting phase and shed, which is typically less severe than postpartum hair loss and occurs on a regular cycle,” he said.
While both conditions can result in shedding and thinning of the hair, postpartum hair loss is typically more severe and can last for several months. “Shedding due to a drop in estrogen levels as a consequence of the menstrual cycle, conversely, is self-limiting, much less severe, and resolves quickly when estrogen levels normalize,” Dr. Vallecillos adds.
The AAD suggests seeing your doctor if it’s been about a year and your hair hasn’t returned to its usual fullness. This may signal there’s something besides postpartum hair loss at play. Your healthcare professional can help you determine the underlying cause of hair loss and develop the correct treatment plan.
How long does postpartum hair loss last?
Often, hair loss following pregnancy isn’t actually “hair loss” at all — it’s just excessive shedding, according to the AAD. This excessive shedding usually starts within a few months after having a baby.
How long it lasts will vary from person to person, but according to the AAD, most people see their hair return to its normal fullness and volume by their baby’s first birthday — and many will see it revert to sometime before the year mark.
Can you regrow your hair after postpartum hair loss?
Your hair may have been fuller than typical throughout pregnancy due to estrogen levels. After you give birth, your estrogen levels will fall, causing the hair that you had retained throughout pregnancy to fall out. That’s why the process is often considered shedding, not actual loss.
With time, your hair should return to its usual fullness — as in, its prepregnancy level.
Do prenatal vitamins help with postpartum hair loss?
There’s little to no evidence that supports taking prenatal vitamins to prevent postpartum hair loss. However, that does not diminish the importance of taking prenatal vitamins.
When you’re pregnant, your body has drastically different needs for various vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. The
There are some nutrient deficiencies that are associated with a reduction in hair health. Notably, during pregnancy, it is common for women to experience low iron levels.
New moms may also be low on protein, especially if they’re breastfeeding. Dr. Vallecillos explains this can directly impact hair health. “Hair is made up of proteins, mainly keratin, which requires a variety of vitamins and minerals to support its growth and maintenance,” he says.
Other nutrients he recommends making sure you’re getting adequate amounts of for overall health, as well as hair health, include iron, zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin D.
If you’re unsure about what you should be eating during pregnancy and after childbirth, it’s critical to speak with your healthcare professional or registered dietitian to help ensure that your nutrient needs during pregnancy and in the postpartum phase are being adequately met.
Your obstetrician can give you guidance on which supplements you need to take and when to start them during — or even before — pregnancy.
Experiencing hair thinning or hair loss might seem like a small investment for bringing your incredible, tiny human into the world — but it can still be a challenging experience.
Depending on what you’re committed to (money and time), there are products on the market that might help return some normalcy to your locks.